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Heads of state arrive in Johannesburg for the 15th BRICS Summit

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Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are meeting in Johannesburg for the 15th BRICS Summit to discuss closer cooperation and sustainable growth.

There will be other items on the agenda, but eyes will be on a potential India-China bilateral meeting as well.

The Asian neighbours have been locked in a border stand-off since May 2020, and a meeting between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping could have an impact on the two countries’ relations.

India and China have not confirmed but haven’t ruled out a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit.

The two leaders briefly interacted last year in Bali during the G20 summit.

But another meeting in Johannesburg could be seen as a step towards the resolution of the border crisis between India and China.

India’s opposition leaders say the Chinese Army has entered India’s borders in the Northern region of Ladakh.

While the Modi government denies these claims, they have called India-China relations abnormal and tense.

A massive buildup of troops along the de-facto border between India and China has forced an eerie calm since 2020.

But after the military leaders of the two nations recently agreed to curb new military constructions along the border, it’s expected that IF a Modi-Xi meeting happens, it could further deflate tensions.

It’s a big IF.

But it comes at a time when the BRICS grouping is discussing an expansion.

At least 40 countries have expressed an interest in joining the grouping, a move that’s supported both by China and Russia.

They need India’s vote to admit new members.

Which analysts say could boost BRICS’s profile, and potentially transform it into an economic heavyweight that can rival the G7 nations.

Even though BRICS nations currently account for a quarter of the world’s GDP and just under half of the world’s population, the grouping has been seen as punching below its weight.

It’s perhaps why trade, infrastructure development, and more aggressive financing through the New Development Bank, commonly called the BRICS Bank is also likely to be on the agenda during the summit.

These are all issues that India also supports in its bid to be seen as a leader of the global south.

A change in its dynamics with China could play a huge role in the country’s global ambitions and could potentially benefit BRICS’s international standing.

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